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Yasin Itoo encounter: Here’s how Indian Army killed ‘Ghaznavi’

Yasin Itoo alias ‘Ghaznavi’ had succeeded Zakir Musa in the Hizbul Mujahideen ranks after the latter was expelled by outfit chief Syed Salahuddin for his allegiance to al Qaeda.
Srinagar: In a major blow to terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, the Indian Army killed its operational commander Yasin Itoo and two of his cohorts in a fierce encounter in the intervening night of August 12-13 in Kashmir’s Shopian district.
Yasin Itoo alias ‘Ghaznavi’ had succeeded Zakir Musa in the Hizbul Mujahideen ranks after the latter was expelled by outfit chief Syed Salahuddin for his allegiance to al Qaeda.
Musa had succeeded Burhan Wani after his encounter killing in July 2016. After Musa’s “expulsion”, Sabzar Bhatt briefly led the Hizbul pack until his killing, after which Yasin became the operational commander.
Riyaz Naikoo is believed to be the other top Hizb commander which the Indian Army is now looking at.
How Yasin Itoo was trapped and eliminated by SOG
Following a tip-off to the local police, a cordon was laid in Awnira village of Shopian on the night of August 12 by the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, Army and the CRPF.
While some terrorists managed to escaped, three including Yasin were holed-up in a house next to a mosque.
Being trapped from all sides, Itoo and his cohorts opened indiscriminate firing on the approaching security personnel, wounding five Army personnel, two of whom later died. This prompted the security forces to wait till dawn while keeping a tight cordon around the area before launching a major strike.
Intermittent firing continued the whole night, and the operation began in full swing in the morning on August 13. All three terrorists holed up were eventually killed following a gunfight. They were identified as Irfan, a tech-savvy militant involved in online propaganda for the militant outfit, and Umar, who was personal security man of ‘Ghaznavi’.
Itoo, from Budgam district of central Kashmir, had a long association with Hizbul Mujahideen and was involved in keeping alive the prolonged unrest of 2016 following the killing of group’s commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces, besides recruiting several young men into the outfit, police said.
He was later identified by his family members who were brought to the scene of the encounter by police from their residence in Budgam.
Itoo, often called a ‘vintage militant’ as he joined Hizbul Mujahideen in 1996, had surrendered in 2007 and later released on parole in 2014.
He joined the militant group again and was its self-styled chief operations commander.
One Kevyt Konekivaan (KK) series rifle used by Itoo and two AK series rifles were recovered from the encounter scene.
Unfortunately, two security personnel were also killed during the encounter.
Jailed former top militant Qasim Faktoo, undergoing a life sentence for murder of human rights activist HN Wanchoo, issued a statement from prison terming Yasin’s killing as a huge loss to the “movement”.

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